Your engagement photos are something you want to get right.
Not to be on a blog necessarily, (although we will be featured on Rustic Wedding Chic on the September 29th – keep an eye out!), but for your future selves. Just imagine looking back on yourselves many years down the road when you’re awesome old people at your much younger and deliriously in love selves. I know if I had photos like this of my parents from before they were married, they would be absolutely priceless to me.
But an engagement session is about more than the photos themselves. We didn’t do one for my first wedding, and consequently we had absolutely no idea what to do with ourselves in front of the photographer on the day of the wedding.
You’re spending some money on this photo session, making memories and images to last a lifetime, and having a dry run with your wedding photographer, all in one. Here are five ways to make your engagement session the best it can be.
1) Location, Location, Location
Where you shoot your engagement photos is probably the most important choice you will make putting together a great shoot.
Think about a location you know pretty well, one that means something to the two of you. Maybe it’s a little park where you spent a lot of time together, or your favorite coffee shop, an apple orchard you visit every year, or maybe your apartment.
If you are comfortable in your surroundings, it shows in your photos. If you are good and familiar with your locations, you’re more likely to be able to find interesting little areas within your location that will provide fantastic backdrops for your photos, and to be able to interact with your surroundings in a natural way.
Unless you are planning to shoot in your apartment, make sure you scout your location out ahead of time to start getting ideas and look for any potential problems. Make sure you go around the time of day you are planning to shoot, preferably only a couple of weeks before your date. Speaking of…
2) When to Shoot
What time of day should this whole shindig go down?
Many if not most photographers like morning best – even when it’s bright, the light is usually hazy, dreamy and romantic. Another good option, if the early morning isn’t right for you, is the golden hour. That time right after sunrise and before sunset has some legendary light, but it’s short, so if you pick the golden hour before sunset, you risk running into dusk.
Be sure to ask your photographer what their favorite time of day to shoot is. They know themselves and their work best, and they should be able to guide you to a time where their style will work best for you.
To check out sunrise, sunset, golden hours, moon phases and everything else you could possibly want to know for your session date, check out the SunDroid app. It is ridiculously cool. Ever want to know the planetary alignment on the date your grandparents got married? You can totally find that too. Also be sure to note the direction and angle that the sun is coming into your location. You don’t want to be squinting. And what do you know? There’s an app for that too.
3) What to Wear?
Choosing your clothes for your engagement session is understandably the cause for some stress. You want to pick something that looks great on both of you, looks timeless, and makes you look like you belong in the same photos.
What you wear will completely depend on your style, but here are some basic guidelines to make sure that your combined look is cohesive. The best way to do that is through color. I wrote a post a while back about Seasonal Color Analysis which seems to be getting pretty popular here on the blog. Read through the post to find the best colors for you and your fiancee, then see if you can find the common or complementary dominant characteristic.
For example, I am somewhere between a Clear Spring and a Clear Winter, so a bright and saturated rainbow print makes me sparkle. Papa Bear on the other hand is a Soft Autumn, and he looks best without a lot of contrast in his look. Clear and Soft are opposite characteristics, so they play nicely off of each other. A Light Summer and a Deep Winter would have cool colors in common, while a Warm Autumn and a Cool Winter would have depth of color in common, for example.
There is quite a bit to seasonal color, and this could be a post (or many) unto itself. If anyone would be interested in more information on couples seasonal color, let me know!
4) To Prop or Not to Prop?
We have all seen loads of engagement shoots in recent years that use a veritable truckload of props.
And that’s fine. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Those sessions are usually quite memorable. The problem can be that you run the risk of being overwhelmed by all the the stuff and missing the connection between the two of you that is the whole point of the shoot. If you do use props, think about picking just a few personal items so you can focus on what is important – you two.
Keep your location in mind, though. For our shoot, we were doing some early morning trespassing, bounding through the woods and meadows like puppies committing a possible misdemeanor. I had some ideas for props for myself, but seeing as I lost my keys while puppy bounding there just the previous week on the scouting mission, I did not have high hopes for holding on to things. We ended up just bringing Papa Bear’s big and easy-to-hang-on-to guitar.
5) Know what perfect means to you
Most of us don’t look in pictures the way we think we do, or the way we would like to. For example, in this photo, I feel like I look puffy everywhere and weird in the face. But minus that, it is one of my favorite images of the whole shoot (definitely one of Papa Bear’s faves – also, he looks fantastic in this one). Also, I look ridiculously happy. And all that makes me okay with the puffy weirdness.
When you get your photos back, if you don’t like a photo because of something to do with you, think of yourself in 50 years or so. What will you think when you look at it then? Does it capture the emotion just perfectly? Does it simply capture a perfect moment? Even if you don’t look like the exact perfect version of you that you have in your mind, do you truly look like you? Ask your hubs-to-be. If you’ve got the right one, he’ll tell you the truth.
Even with the above 5 tips, always remember the most important part of your engagement session – the love between the two of you. Focus on each other, be yourselves, and forget about the photographer. Perhaps enjoy a libation before your shoot (a mimosa or two should put you in the right frame of mind!). Most of all, have fun!